Last year I visited Bali for the first time! It is truly one of the most amazing places I’ve been to with warm, friendly people, stunning nature, fascinating culture, amazing vibes and delicious food.
Indonesia is also the number one producer of coconuts in the world and this was one of the reasons for me to go there.
Being surrounded by coconut trees everywhere you look is pure bliss.
I learnt so much about coconuts – how they are grown, picked, opened and how the different coconut products are produced.
One of the highlights for me was to learn how to make coconut oil.
How to make coconut oil
Our local friend Ketut took us to his cousin to learn about local coconut oil production.
His cousin runs a family-owned coconut oil company in central Bali and showed us around.
I was really impressed to see how much time, work and love is put into this process from the beginning to the end.
Especially because most of it is done by hand.
There are different kinds of coconut oil as well as different production methods. The one I learnt about is one of the most natural ones that uses the minimum amount of heat possible and nothing else besides coconut and purified water.
This results in a very pure, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil with a high nutritional value.
Let’s take a look at how to make coconut oil from A-Z!
Growing – It takes 6-10 years for the palm tree to grow its first fruit.
Then it takes the tree about a year to grow the fruit into a mature coconut, which is the type of coconut that is used to make coconut oil.
Under optimal conditions each coconut tree can produce up to a 100 coconuts per year.
You need 10 coconuts to get 1 liter of cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
So the average coconut tree can at its best produce 10 liters of high quality coconut oil per year. Wow.
Picking – Traditionally coconuts are picked by either climbing the trunk of the coconut palm and picking them one by one or cutting a whole coconut bunch. This happens by hand or with the help of a pole pruner. A net or blanket is used to throw the coconuts in.
Opening and preparing coconuts
Opening – It takes some work to get to the coconut meat – you have to get through the coir, husk and finally the shell.
The coconut husk is removed by hand using a metal blade.
A metal stick is then used to crack the coconut shell open and remove the coconut meat, all of which is done by hand.
The coconut water of the mature coconut is poured into the soil (generally only the water from young, green coconuts is used to drink, although you can drink the water of the mature coconut as well, which is what we did here).
The white coconut meat is then checked for any possible bad parts, separated and washed with purified water.
How to make coconut oil – the cold-press process
The coconut meat is grated in a mechanical machine, to make it easier to get the coconut oil out.
The grated coconut meat is then pressed through a mechanical press that is also operated by hand.
In order for the oil to be qualified as cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, the pressing happens in a carefully controlled heat environment, not exceeding 49° C / 120° F.
The grated coconut can be pressed more than once; during the next presses, purified water is added to the grated coconut meat.
This cold-press process is very pure; it preserves the maximum nutritional value as well as the natural coconut taste and smell.
No cooking / heating or chemicals are used during any part of the process.
Oil separation – the liquid is poured into big plastic containers. It takes approximately 6 hours to separate the oil from the diluted coconut milk.
After 3 days the oil is taken out of the big container and poured into smaller containers, where it’s filtered 5-6 times until it’s completely pure. It is then left to sit up to 2 weeks to become the final product; handmade cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
Storing and distribution
The coconut oil is now ready to be poured into containers and distributed. This particular company sells it under is own brand, but it’s also common to distribute the oil through private labelling.
This is one, usually big coconut oil producer that delivers coconut oil to other companies who do their own branding and marketing.
Private labelling makes it harder to know where an oil comes from and how it has been produced.
Most of the virgin coconut oil produced in countries such as Indonesia is exported to the west.
How to make coconut oil – gratitude
Being able to witness the whole process making coconut oil left me with an increased sense of gratitude and admiration for this amazing plant, the time it takes to grow a coconut and the work put into the production of a jar of coconut oil.
It’s very interesting to learn how to make coconut oil and I recommend this to anyone who has the opportunity.
As my luggage was packed to full capacity after almost 6 months in Asia and 3 seasons of clothing, I only had room for one liter bottle of coconut oil.
It was one of the best coconut oils I ever tried and after a year (because I used this one occasionally, so that it would last me as long as possible) it was still good – without any added preservatives.
This type of coconut oil always has my preference, because I am able to see the production process myself and support the people who make it happen and work hard for it.
Coconut oil check points
Please take the time to research where your coconut oil comes from and under which circumstances it is produced. It’s not always easy to trace this, but feel free to contact the producer and ask what you wish to know.
These are some of the points that matter most to me when it comes to buying coconut oil:
– Fair work conditions and pay for the people
– Animal friendly – no monkeys or other animals are used to pick the coconuts
– Sustainable agriculture with respect for the coconut trees and the environment
– Organic – no chemicals are used during any part of the production
To learn how to pick the best type of coconut oil, take a look at my previous articles:
I hope you enjoyed this article about how to make coconut oil!
Keep on spreading the coco love and come say hi on instagram @coconutqueendom